2012: So I Guess We Are Not All Dead After All

Holy crap, it’s almost 2013! In celebration of not being dead yet, let’s take a peek over our collective shoulder at TPiaL in 2012:

–A year ago today, I had just come back from an ankle contusion. Busted the tissue up pretty bad while vacuuming when I lifted my foot and jammed the corner of a metal bedframe into the soft spot above the joint. Moral of the story: don’t vacuum!

–Last January, I couldn’t transition while in motion.

–By February, I could.

–In March, I struggled to feel like a “real” derby girl, whatever that is.

–In April, I fangirl’d. Note: I am now a fan of the Moto bearings. Quadzilla himself swapped out the derpy ones for a fresh pack, which worked admirably. ❤

–In May, I returned to PFM after months of session skating at rinks, and could finally do all of the drills. Slow learners: we learn real good-like. Eventually.

–In June, BACON.

–In July, I mused about derby wives.

–In August, I started to suspect that maybe something was, like, wrong with my body. Also, I got coated in expired Bengay. You know you jealous.

–In September, I found out that lots of things were definitely wrong with my body, and they would take a hot minute to sort out. FFFFFFFUUUU.

–In October, I scrimmaged anyway because I am a pathological optimist. Verdict: nope, still injured! Get yo’ ass to the outside, do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200.

–In November, I derped around the Shire.

–In December, I done got hitched. We are having a GLITTERY FUCKING CEREMONY next month.

In general, I try to figure out what life is trying to teach me; the end of a year is a handy time for it. What did 2012 seem to be trying to teach me? Some possibilities:

1) You play the hand you’re dealt, not the hand you wish you’d been dealt. Yes, it would be awesome to not have effing janked-up femurs that are effing put in wrong and effing eff up every effing thing I try to do on skates (besides turning my feet out), but I do have them. The sooner I stop angsting and start sticking to SRS PT, the sooner I can get out on the track and stay there.

2) The derby community is just mind-blowingly supportive. From One World to Jet City’s BSL to PFM to Bacon to Fast Girl to random encounters at session skates, I have met so.many.people willing to teach and laugh and share derby wisdom. It’s humbling and it inspires me to contribute.

3) Re-reading my entries from the past year, I realized that I get sick a lot. It sucks. I hate it. There are a lot of reasons for it, but they all fall under the umbrella of “I suck at taking care of myself.” Seriously. If I were my own kid, DCFS would have locked my ass up long ago. I’m kind of over that. Goal for 2013: take good care of me… which sounds like my next post.

Your turn: tell me all ’bout your 2012. What do you think you were supposed to learn? What did you *actually* learn? Much love, peoples.


Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Derptimes

Uh, so today, I skated a full practice for the first time since October.

Without pain.

Lucille Ball FTW.

We did a lot of plow stopping, which I ain’t got no aptitude for, but I’m improving. We also did a lot of stepping through worms, and I felt pretty confident about that. Oh, and heat-molding the front outside quarter of my right boot with my hair dryer appears to have worked, because while I could still feel the grumpy spot, it didn’t pwn me.


None of today’s happiness would have happened without the help of my fabulous PT (JILL LET ME LOVE YOU), my fabulous derby wife, and my fabulous teammates. Yall believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and let me do off-skate shit at your practices, and let me skate around on the outside even though I was in your way during drills, and gave me generous and helpful recovery tips…

You the best, guise. Thank you.

Keeping Score

Welp, I’m still off skates. I NSOed at our scrimmage on Saturday (scorekeeper for the Red Team). My leaguemates were out there all

and I was at the NSO table staring at my ref like my life depended on it, except between jams, when I was all

Le sigh.

NSOing is cool, though. Learned a lot, got to be useful, met excellent refs and NSOs: a victory for Upfish, as Brad Neely would say. Also, my peeps are improving at hitting, ’cause that scrimmage was bersekaheimer. I saw one skater get hit, fall, spin out, and crash into the wall at Turn Four. Twice. Another smashed into the barrier under the NSO table. Is every scrimmage like that, or do I not notice because I’m in it?

After the scrimmage, I was lucky enough to talk with another leaguemate NSO who’s injured, and wise, and a badass. We commiserated about being hamstrung (figuratively), and she had some great advice about being patient with myself and accepting the pace of my recovery. I’m very grateful for her validation. ❤

So that was Saturday. Sunday, I embraced the crapful place I was in; I watched Champs from my couch and ate a lot of deep-fried shit. If you want to know what rock bottom tastes like, it’s batter-dipped deep-fried mac and cheese balls, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, and beer. My subconscious wants me to weigh as much as my self-hatred, maybe?

I’ve been freaking out about losing my hard-earned derby fitness, and my inflating waistline, and my imperfect adherence to my PT/taping regimen, and my crap nutrition choices, and feeling that I’m letting my teammates down by doing so poorly, and hating myself pretty hard for all of it, which has only increased the shitstupidity of my choices, which has kept the cycle going, and… bleargh. There really is something magical about accepting the suck, though, because I woke up Different this morning. I went from being all

to feeling a big ol’ dose of

It’s a process. I’ve fucked up. I’ll fuck up again. But that’s fine: the important thing, in some ways the only important thing, is that I keep going. However imperfectly. However deep-fried. Just keep going.

Viva Italia

So I finally dragged my denial-laden ass to physical therapy. Diagnostics were done. Shit was learned. Passive voice was discouraged, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll write badly if I want to. Do I want to? Not really, but it’s hella early and I ain’t had my coffee yet, so I’ll take what wordfarts I can get.

My emotions during the session reminded me of the time in sixth grade at good ol’ Oak Knoll Elementary when Mrs. Proebsting had us write “Fortunately/Unfortunately” stories. To wit:

Fortunately, I don’t have shin splints.

Unfortunately, I do have hypermobile first toes that point outward that are supposed to point forward and therefore kill my ability to push off, stiff ankles (particularly the right as a result of serious tissue injury last year), femurs that are unusually situated in my hips and therefore what feels like “neutral stance” to me is actually “feet turned way the hell out” since I have all of ten degrees of rotation inward and thus am struggling with plow stops because my legs just. don’t. go. in., and the resulting mechanics mean that it’s really hard for me to engage my hips/glutes, a couple pissed-off tendons that are workin’ on some tendonitis, and knees that are slowly being pulled apart in the tug-of-war between the dysfunctional city-states listed above because my legs are, apparently, pre-unification Italy.

Fortunately, all that business can be fixed with changing the way I stand/sleep/etc, taping and doing PT. Oh, and I’m cleared to skate.

Which leaves me feeling like this about my physical therapist:

So I gotta go, ’cause I gotta put my snazzy enhanced insoles in, ’cause I get to skate tonight. WINSAUUUCE!

Who Needs Logic When You Have Ibuprofen?

So there was scrimmage last Saturday. Thanks to an extraordinarily derped-out schedule, it was the first time I managed to meet up with PFM’s regular monthly Core group (I was at the Rainier scrimmage, but that was a different type thing). I love PFM, and I love scrimmaging, and a bunch of folks from Tilted were joining us, so I really, really wanted to Participate.

“But Jess,” you say, “that makes no sense! You barely wobbled your way through your last several practices. What made you think you’d be able to scrimmage regular-like?” To which, Dear Reader, I will politely request that you

Mmmkay? Mmmkay!

Unsurprisingly, I started out the afternoon bein’ sassy. I rested the whiny shins, stretched them, rolled them out and loved them up with Tiger Balm. When they acted up during warmups anyway, I was all

and kept skating. Even got through the worm, which felt not-awesome, but I Fricking Did It Anyway So There.

When the shaking got so bad that I couldn’t both hold myself up and keep pace, I skated around the outside. Have I mentioned that I hate that shit? I hate that shit. I hate it so. Hard.

Then, scrimmage. I jammed first. I love jamming, not because I have any aptitude for it whatsoever but because I am demented and get an alarming degree of satisfaction out of surviving things that I don’t expect to survive. This jam was fierce, yo. Everyone was at maximum energy, and every time I almost made it out, someone would be all

and send my ass sprawling.

My perception was that I got the crap beat out of me out there, an opinion which was validated slightly when I staggered back to the bench and Coach said, “You got the crap beat out of you out there! But you didn’t give up, and that’s what counts.” I might argue that it would count maybe a little tiny bit more if I could make an initial pass or something, but she was being supportive and I wasn’t about to turn that down.

I sat out the last few jams of our first 20 minute scrimmage because shins. One of the experienced Tilted folks talked me into staying geared up and playing in the second scrimmage, so I did, and I’m grateful. It was good to block, to be part of a wall, to communicate in an effort to help. Dear Cool Tilted Skater Who Made Time To Care About Me When You Totally Didn’t Have To:


That said, it was so incredibly frustrating to have moments of knowing what my team needed me to do without a single word being said, and to lack the physical ability–but not necessarily the skating ability (!)–to follow through on that understanding. I hate not being capable for my teammates. Ugh. My Denial Wall has finally crumbled, and guys, I… I’m Actually Injured. Like, something is wrong. I need help. To which my visceral response is, of course,

Yeah. But I’m going to get me to a physical therapist, and get this crap figured out, and come back stronger when it’s over. I was not an athlete before derby and I don’t really know how to be one, much less an injured/recovering one, but ain’t no way I’m gonna die without finding out.


So practice was a frustrating pile of crap today–wait, no, let me start over. Practice was excellent today, because it was led by Morty, and Morty is excellent, and there was agility, and new stops to learn, and a bunch of Tilted skaters there to watch and learn from, and other such hoorayness. But it was crap for me because I didn’t effing do it because shin splints and blerrrg.

It started off well enough. I was wearing my lucky pants. I got in some decent lateral cuts when I was messing around before warmups. I even managed to find a better headspace: life outside of derby is full of big ol’ changes right now, so when I started gearing up I was all I AM HAVING FEELS and then my inner grownup was all YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO COMPARTMENTALIZE THAT SHIT and happily, I did. I hit the track focused. That was cool.

Then we warmed up. Two-lap leads: okay. In a pace line: okay. Crossing over: okay. But it was all on the outside, so no momentum bursts from skating the track, and there were like ten zillion of us, so it went onnn, and my stupid-ass piece-of-shit shins were like


and cramped up like they haven’t done since Bacon, and I was like


and finished warmups because I am stubborn. Then I went with everyone to the middle to stretch and massaged the stabby parts and tried not to cry or barf.

We did a worm after that. It was moving at a decent clip, but not that quickly, but when your shin muscles feel like they’re being yanked from the inside every time you try to do something crazy like pick up your feet, it’s pretty effing hard to step through. So I missed a step, and had to t-stop to get back to my spot, which hurt, and had to step through and then accelerate, which hurt, and then I wiped out (how? no idea!), which didn’t hurt, and got up, which did, and I was like


I went to the outside in hopes of skating it out and realized that was Not On, so I skated over to the fridge, grabbed an ice pack, and plopped my sullen ass down. Zwack asked what was up and pointed out that ice probably wouldn’t help with shin splints, but rolling them out with a stick that looks like should come with a safeword (which Laurie thankfully had brought with her) and slapping on some Tiger Balm probably would.

Well, we didn’t have any Tiger Balm, but we had some Bengay. Old Bengay. That expired seven years ago. Because I am Sherlock fucking Holmes up in here, I concluded that trying something was better than trying nothing, so I busted out the tube and promptly covered my hands, arms and face in what can only be described as Bengay lube because as it turned out, the liquid part had separated from the solid part, and the former escaped before the latter even knew the cap was off. Word to the wise: it’s the liquid part that makes the burning sensation. I now know this thing, and I pass it on in hopes that you, Dear Reader, need not learn it from experience.

It was thus that I spent practice: sidelined, rolling my shins with what by all appearances ought to be a sex toy, stinking of old-balls Bengay and tingling like a mofo.

In case you were wondering, that is not how I prefer to spend practice. As Zwack pointed out, “You don’t give up often, do you?” In point of fact I have never given up at a practice; barring the one time I went home because I fell backwards onto my head (BALLER), I have skated out every.single.challenge I’ve faced in the last seventeen months. So being sidelined for something I thought I’d beaten two months ago? Rationally, I recognize that it was really not that big of a deal, but emotionally, I am all


Y’know? ‘Cause I Worked to get better than I was at Bacon, and today I wasn’t better, and I couldn’t safely practice to improve, and that really pisses me off.

So I’m sulking, and digging out my Tiger Balm, and planning a long bubble bath during which I will play some whiny-ass Pandora station and blub. I cry when I’m mad. It’s annoying. *shrugs* Then I’ll get my shit together for the next practice and make sure it goes better. Maybe I’ll come up with a safeword for that roller stick. You just never know.

Plateaus and Runways

I once told a fellow hooper who felt stuck in a skills plateau that I don’t believe in plateaus: in my mind, every “plateau” is a runway for a new ascent. In hooping, that’s easy for me to believe because I tend to pick up new skills quickly. The one-shoulder drop-out that some people never get? I had it nailed after three months. Boo- to the -yah.

In skating, though? El oh el oh el no. I don’t pick up skating skills quickly at. All. I kid you not, I had to practice daily for weeks just to learn how to skate on one foot at a time. Dorrrk. And while I have learned many skills since then, the pace at which I learn them has been slow. Skaters who started with me in PFM have leagued up; I’m still at Lynnwood, derping around, workin’ on the basics, skating my way across this frozen tundra of what was awfully like a plateau.

Imagine my glee these past few weeks when I’ve had breakthrough after breakthrough: skating backwards (a little!), transitioning, confidently jumping between feet, running on my toestops, duck running, slaloming, and now crossing over to the right. I practiced that yesterday at Lynnwood on the advice of Rosary Bleeds, who kindly made time to teach me last week as she was teaching the Flight Schoolers. It was so thrilling to do something new, and to see concrete evidence that I’ve worked my way to a new ascent. I’d begun to doubt that there would be one, so the improvement is very welcome.


–Wild West Showdown was pretty great, mostly because of the Challenge Hall. So many gifted skaters… I basically played “Watch Sara Problem? and get a master class in blocking”, which was stunning. Lady has SKILLS, and the smarts to apply them with frightening brilliance. Love. Her.
–I fell down the stairs on the ferry after it and got a frickin’ concussion. Fuuuck! I’m under a no-contact order from my doc for at least a week, at which point she’ll reassess me, but at least I can skate and the concussion is minor. Grumble. *gingerly touches the giant bruise on her forehead*
–I’ve been trying out a bunch of different wheels lately, which should probably be its own post. I also put on new and softer cushions (I’d been on the stock cushions that came with the Powerdyne Thrust, which are gahddamn rocks) and got new pivot cups. My skates are so responsive now!
–Mr. Jess and I are going to One World on Saturday, as they teach basic skating skills and are co-ed. So excited to go back!

Ugh. Head hurts, and I feel stupid. Time to stare vacantly at Netflix and drink tea. Derby love, all… really. This community is beautiful, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. Now watch out–I’m finally gaining skills, and I’m league-ward bound. ^_^